The Vendimia Parade is famous throughout Argentina. It is harvest time in all of the Provinces and so there are activities through out the week. There are tango shows, wine tasting, beauty pageants in each province, choral and orchestra presentations in the plazas, culminating with the parade and a Vendimia program in the amphitheater down the street from us. Of course there are fireworks for every show, and so for a week we were woken up with fireworks at midnight.
I love the float with the beauty queens from years gone by. They have a great time remembering the good ol' days when they had less wrinkles and less pounds around the waist.
As the floats pass by the princesses throw out fruit that is specifically grown in their province. All the provinces are represented. The girls are reaching into their baskets getting fruit, or pasta, or tomato puree in boxes, or wine bottles to throw to the people. That is why so many people are in the streets close to the floats.
It is fun to see all the floats, like this one from Alvear, one of our zones in San Rafael. We have zones in everyone of the provinces and so we enjoy thinking about the missionaries who are serving in these areas. Do you see the red pole with the basket taped to it on the left? If you remember from last year, this is what the children make so that the princess can put the fruit right into their basket because the older boys always get everything because of their height.
Many countries are represented in the parade, because Mendoza is a multi-cultural city. This one is Bolivian.
You can see the difference in the round faces of the Bolivian children. So different from the children from Mendoza who are mostly Italian.
There is a large community of Iranians here in Mendoza. We also see large groups of Chinese, and also Tibetans. After filming "Seven Years In Tibet" here in Mendoza up in Uspallata, many of the Tibetans stayed.
This is Sol, she is the queen from Godoy Cruz (the mission office is in Godoy Cruz). It was her birthday. The floats always stopped right in front of the missionaries and the princesses would always throw something to them. Sol spoke to them in English and told them it was her birthday and so the missionaries sang her Happy Birthday in English.
A great photo capturing the missionaries in the air trying to catch some fruit. At the end of the day they had quite a stash of fruit.
There are many gauchos in the parade, but this one was unique because of the hand made halter and reins for his horse. This is quite an art here in the provinces. We remember seeing these made in San Rafael.
Every province has it's own color of traditional gaucho clothing. This older gentleman was looking so classy I had to take a picture. That is one beautiful horse.
This brought memories back from the Laguna Beach Art Festival in California. This float was very interesting, especially when the statue waved her hand to the audience.
The missionaries in their white shirts and ties were definitely a "chic" magnet. As a group they would crowd around the float and because they were so American looking the princesses would say welcome to our country- and they would answer back in perfect Spanish- "Thanks we love it here."
Elder Rodriguez (right) and I had a fight in the air as we both jumped for the same stem of grapes. We fought over it and ended up with very sticky hands.
Only the missionaries who served in this area of Mendoza were allowed to attend the parade. These were the lucky ones. The Elders in preparation day clothing were having their p-day, the others were on official business (monkey business) and were properly dressed. (Left back) Elders Boisados, Cabranes, Stevenson, Fowler, Sargent, Garner (Left bottom) Elders Rodriguez, Reynolds, Carter, Cooper.
There was a religious theme on this float, a sweet young girl playing the part of Mary holding the baby Jesus. She stayed still like this through out the parade. I am sure others who have served in other parts of South America all remember the harvest time parades with Mary in costume paraded in the streets. There is a beautiful statue of Christ as you go down into the valley of Valle de Uco and Tupangato. Christ has his arms outstretched and is watching and guarding over the valley.
This was an especially sweet moment as we saw this young boy holding his little brother who had fallen asleep. The day was almost 100 degrees and those in the parade were very hot in their costumes. That made this scene doubly special. Obviously a family, aren't they beautiful?
Every gaucho carries a knife in the back of his belt. The stitch work in this provinces clothing was quite elaborate and beautiful.
This young lady caught our eye, she was very proud and very animated. Of course I love her horse because she looks like the horse I ride back home.
I had to include this picture because this group of dancing young people were very scantily dressed. They represented Brazil. They were the only suggestive group in the whole parade. I was so proud of my missionaries, as this group came dancing down the street- they all turned their backs as the group passed by. It was as if it had been orchestrated, but those missionaries did it on their own. Any mother would be proud.
Everything in this province revolves around the grape and the wine. There isn't much else to Mendoza but vineyards and orchards. The industry keeps the people with jobs and food on the table.
You will notice the three parade control men guarding this float. I was wondering why until I saw Elder Fowler (white shirt) come back with his winnings from the float- No not grapes or a melon, or even a bottle of tomato salsa, but a bottle of wine. You will notice all of the eyes of princesses are on him. If any of them knew how funny this was- a Mormon Missionary given a bottle of wine.
Yes, Elder Fowler knew this probably wasn't a good thing, and so he walked right over to President and gave him the bottle of wine. President decided to keep the bottle and we will bring it home. We will bring it out at reunions to retell the story of Elder Fowler who went to get a cluster of grapes at the Vendimia Parade and came back with a bottle of wine.